Lewton's Polygala / Center For Plant Conservation
Search / Plant Profile / Polygala lewtonii
Plant Profile

Lewton's Polygala (Polygala lewtonii)

The pinkish-purple flowers of Polygala lewtonii have 5 sepals, 2 of which are enlarged and wing-like. Between these two sepals lies the largest of the 3 petals, which forms a keel that ends in a tuft of finger-like projections. Photo Credit: © Steve Shirah
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Polygalaceae
  • State: FL
  • Nature Serve ID: 150072
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/01/1990

P. lewtonii is a short-lived (5 to 10 year) perennial herb with one to several annual stems that grow up to 20 centimeters tall. Stems are spreading, upward-curving, or erect, and often branched. The narrow, succulent sessile leaves are 0.5 inches long, wider above the middle, and overlapping along the stem. The dark pink flowers occur in racemes and are about 0.5 cm long. This plant also produces smaller, cleistogamous flowers. Flowering occurs from February to May. (USFWS 1999) This species is often overlooked and confused with its more common relative, Polygala polygama. This species can be distinguished from the rare P. lewtonii because it forms larger clumps, has a longer root, narrower leaves, and differently-shaped wing sepals. Its short branches hug the ground and bear inconspicuous self-pollinating flowers. (USFWS 1999)

Where is Lewton's Polygala (Polygala lewtonii) located in the wild?


P. lewtonii is found in white sand, scrub characterized by longleaf pine and low scrub oaks, including low turkey oak woods, and in transitional sandhill/scrub habitats. This species occasionally inhabits powerline clearings or new roadsides. (USFWS 1999)This species is often found in the company of other federally listed plants, including Warea amplexifolia, Ziziphus celata, Prunus geniculata, Nolina brittoniana, and Eriogonum longifolium var. gnaphalifolium. (USFWS 1999)


P. lewtonii is a Florida endemic found only on the Central Florida Ridge in Highlands, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola and Polk Counties.

States & Provinces:

Lewton's Polygala can be found in Florida

Which CPC Partners conserve Lewton's Polygala (Polygala lewtonii)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Tina Stanley
  • 05/11/2023
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

According to a March 2023 extract of the Florida Plant Rescue Database, Bok Tower Gardens holds 2 accessions of Polygala lewtonii totalling approximately 393 seeds.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A Florida endemic with a very narrow habitat range, which is rapidly being lost due to development and agriculture. There are approximately 100 known occurrences, scattered along portions of Florida's Central Ridge. Most sites have very few individuals.

Dorothy M. Brazis
  • 01/01/2010

The principal cause of decline is conversion of high pineland and scrub habitat for agricultural purposes (principally citrus groves), and for commercial, residential, and recreational purposes.

Dorothy M. Brazis
  • 01/01/2010

75 sites in Christman report, one protected at Tiger Creek sites in Highlands, Polk, Osceola, Lake, and Marion Counties (including Ocala National Forest.) Since the plant is easily overlooked or confused with similar species, it may be more abundant than surveys indicate. Protected sites for this species include Ocala F, Lake Wales Ridge SF, Arbuckle SP, Catfish Creek SP, Tiger Creek Preserve, Pine Ridge Preserve at Bok Tower Gardens, and Highlands Hammock SP.

Dorothy M. Brazis
  • 01/01/2010

The Nature Conservancy is mapping and monitoring P. lewtonii at the Tiger Creek Preserve. Archbold Biological Station is conducting research on the fire response, reproductive biology, and demographics of this species.

Dorothy M. Brazis
  • 01/01/2010

No active management known to be in progress.

Dorothy M. Brazis
  • 01/01/2010

Preservation of the best known populations of Polygala lewtonii in Florida. Determine significance of transitional sandhill/scrub habitats. Fire management and implementation of prescribed burning schedules. Monitoring the response of P. lewtonii to fire. Research the life history and propagation of P. lewtonii since it has not been reported in the literature. Annual field surveys of existing populations.

Dorothy M. Brazis
  • 01/01/2010

Propagation and seed germination studies.


Be the first to post an update!

Taxon Polygala lewtonii
Authority Small
Family Polygalaceae
CPC Number 3569
ITIS 29345
Duration Biennial
Common Names Lewton's milkwort | Lewton's polygala
Associated Scientific Names Polygala lewtonii
Distribution P. lewtonii is a Florida endemic found only on the Central Florida Ridge in Highlands, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola and Polk Counties.
State Rank
State State Rank
Florida S2S3
Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Sweat bees Halictidae Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Butterflies & Moths
Whites Pieridae Confirmed Pollinator Link
Small moth Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Bee flies Geron Confirmed Pollinator Link
Flies Confirmed Pollinator Link
Gnats Gnat Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Mosquitoes Mosquito Confirmed Pollinator Link

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

CPC secures rare plants for future generations by coordinating on-the-ground conservation and training the next generation of plant conservation professionals. Donate today to help save rare plants from extinction.

Donate Today